If you’ve ever had any­thing to do with B2B soft­ware, you prob­a­bly know that soft­ware that is built for large, com­plex orga­ni­za­tions is often clas­si­fied as “enter­prise soft­ware.” Of course, in the world of soft­ware prod­uct mar­ket­ing, we (and by we, I mean other peo­ple, not me) some­times have a ten­dency to attach terms like “enter­prise” to our prod­ucts in order to trum­pet them up as we go to mar­ket, regard­less of whether or not the prod­ucts actu­ally qual­ify for these vaunted descrip­tors. While there is no stan­dards body that gov­erns the use of the term enter­prise, cus­tomers gen­er­ally expect prod­ucts to have cer­tain attrib­utes in order to ensure that a prod­uct or ser­vice meets the needs of large, sophis­ti­cated organizations—enterprises.

Scal­a­bil­ity. Large orga­ni­za­tions gen­er­ally run very large-scale oper­a­tions and there­fore require sys­tems that can keep up with their needs. That means hav­ing the capac­ity to keep up with large num­bers of users and a heavy stream of activ­ity. Big brands don’t gen­er­ally take risks on crit­i­cal infra­struc­ture that is not well proven—especially when it comes to mea­sur­ing the impact of their mas­sive mar­ket­ing invest­ments to drive vis­i­tors to screens with the ulti­mate goal of get­ting them to con­vert. This is why in their recently pub­lished report, the For­rester Wave: Web Ana­lyt­ics, Q2 2014, For­rester Research weighed the num­ber of “enterprise-class” com­pa­nies who are using the vendor’s web ana­lyt­ics prod­ucts very heav­ily into their scor­ing cri­te­ria. Adobe Ana­lyt­ics is one of the largest SaaS prod­uct offer­ings in the world. With more than 140,000 active users, the system—which spans more than 20,000 servers in Adobe data cen­ters around the globe—processes nearly 7 tril­lion trans­ac­tions per year.

Inte­gra­tion. While Adobe pri­mar­ily builds soft­ware to serve the needs of mar­keters, make no mis­take, IT is always involved in the pro­cure­ment and imple­men­ta­tion of our prod­ucts because the gear we sell becomes part of the larger organization’s com­put­ing infra­struc­ture. In order to coex­ist with the other tech­nol­ogy invest­ments an orga­ni­za­tion has made, mod­ern enter­prise sys­tems and ser­vices are expected to be able to inter­face with each other, even if they were not orig­i­nally designed to work together. This is typ­i­cally enabled through open APIs and standards-based inter­faces. In addi­tion, enter­prise soft­ware prod­ucts in nearly any mature mar­ket cat­e­gory are gen­er­ally expected to have devel­oped purpose-built inte­gra­tions with other com­mon tech­nolo­gies cus­tomers use with them. Because mar­ket­ing ana­lyt­ics soft­ware is at the heart of any mar­ket­ing tech­nol­ogy stack, it is expected to work with a num­ber of other mar­ket­ing appli­ca­tions, includ­ing email, cam­paign man­age­ment, CRM, adver­tis­ing, and test­ing and tar­get­ing to name a few. Often dis­cussed as ties into the greater “mar­ket­ing ecosys­tem,” inte­gra­tion was a crit­i­cal fac­tor in the rat­ings For­rester gave ana­lyt­ics ven­dors in the For­rester Wave: Web Ana­lyt­ics, Q2 2014. For­rester scored ven­dors based on their depth of both APIs and the “com­ple­men­tary appli­ca­tions” with which ven­dors inte­grate closely.

Data Porta­bil­ity and Man­age­ment. In a world where nobody seems to be able to give a talk at an indus­try con­fer­ence or write a blog post or mag­a­zine arti­cle with­out using the word “Big Data” (ugh, appar­ently me included), it is crit­i­cal for orga­ni­za­tions to be able to lever­age the way incre­men­tal data sets enrich the marketer’s view of their cus­tomers and prospec­tive cus­tomers. To do this, mar­keters must be able to uti­lize pow­er­ful tools to visu­al­ize, ana­lyze, and manip­u­late their data. The obvi­ous pre­req­ui­site for that is for these pow­er­ful tools to be able to actu­ally gain access to the data. This has impli­ca­tions both on the ways and types of data that can be ingested (see my prior point on inte­gra­tions) and on the way data is con­sumed. Adobe’s phi­los­o­phy is that your data is, well, yours. So you should be able to work with it wher­ever you want—if you want to export the data, fine; you want to put the data into a visu­al­iza­tion tool (one of ours or one you build some other way), no prob­lem; you want reports, done. The recent For­rester Wave report asked ven­dors a num­ber of ques­tions about data porta­bil­ity in its assess­ment of the play­ers in the industry:

  • What level of data porta­bil­ity is avail­able to the users?
  • What types of data can be exported from the prod­uct (raw data, aggre­gated data, reports, etc.)?
  • How far back in time can each of the data sets be exported?
  • How long would it take to port a typ­i­cal enter­prise customer’s full data set from the product?
  • What tools are in place to aid the port­ing of data?
  • Can users read­ily port the data them­selves at no extra cost from the vendor?
  • What level of sup­port is there from the ven­dor and/or ser­vices part­ners to port the data?

These are just three of the dozens of cat­e­gories of nuanced require­ments seri­ous orga­ni­za­tions should be requir­ing of ven­dors to ensure they are well-equipped to meet their needs. For a more com­pre­hen­sive list, I strongly rec­om­mend reach­ing out to For­rester, which offers clients a num­ber of com­pre­hen­sive ven­dor eval­u­a­tion tools.